Hot kitchen, cool pastry

Plum and raspberry pie

Why is it that the peak season for juicy, delicious fruits coincides with the worst conditions for pie crust? All of those ripe, luscious berries, peaches, and apricots are just begging to be sandwiched between flaky, tender crusts, but a hot kitchen can wreak havoc on your pastry dough. What's a baker to do? Follow the tips from indexed blog Food52 on working with dough in a hot kitchen, that's what.

A little planning coupled with judicious freezer use can save you from a ruined pie crust. Keep your cool by putting "your utensils -- rolling pin, bowl, mixing paddles, and any other specialty tools -- in the freezer to chill. If you ever fear that your dough is getting too soft while you work, pop it in the freezer for a few minutes." They suggest an hour of chilling time. Using a marble pastry board can help, too. If you have one, use a food processor instead of your hands to cut in your butter or lard. And you may want to "keep a bowl of ice water near your work surface. As you shape your pastry or form your pie crust, occasionally dip your fingers in the water to cool them down and prevent the warmth of your hands from melting the butter in the dough." Don't forget to dry your hands before handling the dough to avoid making it too wet. 

Food52 offers advice on how to work with bread dough and biscuit dough, too. One trick for biscuits, scones and shortcakes is to use a box grater to grate frozen butter into the dough. These and other tips in the article should help you maintain your cool when working with dough in a hot kitchen. 

Photo of Plum and raspberry pie from Food52 and the EYB Library

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